Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 837–844 | Cite as

Electro-acupuncture treatment for internet addiction: Evidence of normalization of impulse control disorder in adolescents

  • Yang Yang
  • Hui Li
  • Xi-xi Chen
  • Luo-ming Zhang
  • Bing-jie Huang
  • Tian-min Zhu
Original Article



To observe the impacts of electro-acupuncture (EA) and psychological intervention (PI) on impulsive behavior among internet addiction (IA) adolescents.


Thirty-two IA adolescents were allocated to either EA (16 cases) or PI (16 cases) group by a randomized digital table. Subjects in the EA group received EA treatment and subjects in the PI group received cognition and behavior therapy. All adolescents underwent 45-d intervention. Sixteen healthy volunteers were recruited into a control group. Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) scores, Young's Internet Addiction Test (IAT) as well as the ratio of brain N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) to creatine (NAA/Cr) and choline (Cho) to creatine (Cho/Cr) were recorded by magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and after intervention respectively.


The IAT scores and BIS-11 total scores in both EA and PI group were remarkably decreased after treatment (P<0.05), while EA group showed more significant decrease in certain BIS-11 sub-factors (P<0.05). Both NAA/Cr and Cho/Cr were significantly improved in EA group after treatment (P<0.05); however, there were no significant changes of NAA/Cr or Cho/Cr in PI group after treatment (P>0.05).


Both EA and PI had significantly positive effect on IA adolescents, especially in the aspects of psychological experiences and behavioral expressions, EA might have an advantage over PI in terms of impulsivity control and brain neuron protection. The mechanism underlying this advantage might be related to the increased NAA and Cho levels in prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices.


internet addiction electro-acupuncture Barratt Impulsiveness Scale magnetic resonance spectroscopy impulse behavior 


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The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Prof. JIN Rong-jiang in participants recruitment, Mr. WU Qin-zhu for his excellent technical assistance and Dr. ZHOU Zhang-yi in the conduction of cognitive behavior therapy.


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Copyright information

© Chinese Association of the Integration of Traditional and Western Medicine and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yang Yang
    • 1
  • Hui Li
    • 2
  • Xi-xi Chen
    • 1
  • Luo-ming Zhang
    • 1
  • Bing-jie Huang
    • 1
  • Tian-min Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Rehabilitation and Health PreservationChengdu University of Traditional Chinese MedicineChengduChina
  2. 2.School of MedicineChengdu UniversityChengduChina

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